How to Not Spend a Million Dollars on Food When You Travel

When planning a trip one of the biggest expenses you start to see while researching is how much you expect to spend on food. What some may not realize is you can cut out much of those unnecessary expenses by planning a bit ahead. Richard and I have made it a habit to pack nonperishable items that we would often utilize in our everyday lives. That or we plan time at the beginning of our trip to hit up the local grocery store for cheap, filling items that help offset those small and sometimes big purchases throughout the day.


One of our splurges! The Breakfast Bowl from Valerie Confections in Grand Central Market while we were in Los Angeles.

As you are out and about you WILL get hungry, but rather than stopping at every little market or food truck you see, having a granola bar in your bag can hold you over until you are ready to splurge on going out for a meal. While you don’t want to deprive yourself of trying out the local cuisine, you also don’t want your whole budget to go to food.

Some items we choose depend on the length of our stay and where we are traveling to. We are from the US so traveling within the states most items are ok. You will want to check for international travel what items are acceptable if you plan on packing anything in your bag.

Here is a list of items we usually gravitate towards:

  • Granola/protein bars
  • Peanut Butter
  • Cereal (can be eaten dry)
  • Canned soups
  • Nuts (peanuts, cashews, almonds are my go-to)
  • Bread
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Fruit snacks (I have a notorious sweet tooth)
  • Chips or some crunchy snack of your choice
    If you have access to refrigeration and/or cooking appliances
  • Milk
  • Lunch Meat
  • Cheese
  • Eggs (hardboiled eggs pack well for a day out)

Create a budget. Figure out the cost of goods. Plan strategically. You want to find foods that are going to sustain you throughout the day. Remember to eat a good breakfast to start the day, carry snacks with you, and STAY HYDRATED! You can save money on bottled water by packing a reusable bottle. You will be able to fill up on water throughout the day at water fountains. Hydration is important because often times when you think you are hungry you could possibly just be dehydrated. You can also stave off feeling sluggish throughout your adventure-filled day by keeping hydrated.

One way we try to keep expenses down is by finding accommodations that provide complimentary breakfast for the price we are looking to pay. In most cases, you can find somewhere for the same price or just a couple dollars more per night. These few dollars should be less than or equal to what you would pay to buy yourself breakfast. We have even been lucky enough to find places that have provided dinner for us in the past, too!

Weigh your options but you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on food when you travel. A key thing to remember is that whether you are traveling or at home you have to eat so it is an expense either way. Why not enjoy it experiencing somewhere new?
What are some of your favorite trip snacks? Til next time Pengminions!

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The Magic of the Thrift Store Pt. 2: Housewares

~Kristen Furleigh

Thrifting part dos! Richard and I have been able to furnish our rental primarily with finds from the thrift stores around town. It takes time and you have to be patient. You have to be willing to go without for a little bit when what you are searching for isn’t readily available. The pay off for you patience is grand!

Some of your finds will take a bit of elbow grease to turn it into something you will like in your home but the upside is you won’t pay nearly as much as a brand new item and you can tailor it to your specific home decor. Here is an example of a couple of my favorite pieces I happened to find separately.


$7 thrift store dresser

I had found the dresser for around $7 and when I stumbled upon the night stand for a whopping $2.50 I had to have it. The styles were just too similar. Both were originally a cream and gold color when I bought them and I was able to turn them into what you see now for an additional $10 in re-purposing materials.


night stand



The savings compared to new are astounding. You can find pieces like this too if you take the time to go look and are willing to put in a bit of elbow grease!


Thrift store finds

Not all items need work though. I found this red piece for under $5 and felt the vintage look was perfect and now we use it as a bar/liquor cabinet. It also keeps my candy too but that’s another story…


When you allow yourself to open up to all the possibilities thrift stores can offer you there are thousands that can be saved by buying used items. Outside of furniture you can buy many other housewares if you can get out of the mindset of needing brand new things or needing things to come in perfectly matched sets.

Silverware and kitchen items can be found at pennies instead of dollars. Do your forks, knives, and spoons really need to match??? You need them to transfer food from your plate to your mouth and whether or not they match honestly is trivial. If someone is going to judge you for not having matching plates you can just wave your plane ticket at them as you jet off on yet another adventure with all the money you save by thrifting.

Now not all thrift store furniture is under $10 bucks, but their prices will be a fraction their traditional cost. Our couch was the most expensive purchase, it was a 5-piece sectional in exceptional condition for $150, but had we bought that same exact couch new it would have cost over $1,000 easily.

It takes patience and a long term outlook to get exactly what you’re looking for, but that will be worth it for your bank account and as we talked about in our previous blog the environment since you will be utilizing things that would otherwise end up at the dump.

The next time you need a new dresser or something small like a food processor I challenge you to check out your local thrift store first and see what you can save! Are there any questions you have about thrifting? Leave us a comment below and we would love to answer them for you. Til next time Pengminions!


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The Magic of the Thrift Store Pt. 1: Clothes

~Kristen Furleigh

How much do you think you spend on new clothes? Where do you get them? In my experience clothes can get really expensive, really fast, even if you shop at clothing discounters like Ross, Marshalls, or T.J. Maxx. Most people don’t shop there though. They shop at Target, department stores in the mall, or even outlets.

Thrift stores have become my best friend. You can get clothing from top end designers at a FRACTION of the cost. There are plenty of times where I find brand new clothing with tags still attached!

When I got hired on as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Nevada-Reno for the College of Business I had to purchase a brand new business casual wardrobe; for some reason yoga pants weren’t acceptable attire. So I spent about $100. This might seem like a lot of money but I bought enough attire that it will last me my career here at UNR. Jackets, button up shirts, blouses, skirts, slacks. I even bought a couple new pairs of shoes to boot. For the same brands of clothing I would have spent well over $500 at any regular retailer brand new.

Why spend such an exorbitant amount of money on things you can find used at a much lower cost? Bonus, you are helping out the environment by keeping these items out of landfills and giving them a new life!

Two of my favorite places here in Reno are any of the Savers in town and the Bargain Bin Goodwill on Oddie Blvd. Savers thrift stores are a bit more pricey compared to other thrift stores but the quality of the clothes they sell is higher as well. One of the coolest things about Savers is when you donate your unwanted items they give you a discount card that you can earn up to 30% off at checkout. When you are done with them give your old things an opportunity to find a new home you could even save some extra bucks.


Decked out in Thrift Store finds!


The Bargain Bin Goodwill store is a special resale shop because they sell their clothing not based on a price for each individual item but by weight. You buy clothing for $1.49 per pound. You read that right! Since their clothing is sold by weight, in most cases it is extremely cheap; especially for women’s clothing which is often made out of lighter materials. You do have to search through because just as the store’s name implies everything is piled into large bins. I’ve found everything from basics and casuals all the way up to formal dresses.

If either of these don’t strike your fancy you can try your traditional Goodwill, SPCA, Salvation Army, St. Vincent’s, and Thrift Depot to name a few.

This is mostly about clothing but you can even find great quality shoes for amazing prices if you are willing to take the time to look. My favorite purchase was a pair of hiking boots that looked as if they were used less than a handful of times; when I price checked them online they retailed for $150 and were being sold for $15. Score!

For some it might seem weird wearing clothing that someone else wore but all you have to do is give them a good wash in the washing machine or take the fancier items for dry cleaning before wearing and you are good to go.  I challenge you to go out and find a thrift store near you the next time you are in need of some new clothing; you just might be surprised at what you can find. There are times you will strike out but the hunt is a fun game you can play. Share with us what you think or some of your favorite thrift store finds! We look forward to hearing your thoughts. Til next time Pengminions.

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Travel: Making it Happen

Travel: Making it Happen
~ Kristen Furleigh

Travel can almost always seem to be an ever elusive endeavor. Often it feels like it is never the “right” time; is there a “right” time? I came across this quote recently,

“There’s never a convenient time to travel in your life. When you’re young you have the time and the energy to travel, but not the means. When you’re middle-aged you have the energy and means to travel, but not the time. And when you’re old you have the time and means to travel, but not the energy.”

It was posted by a lovely RV travel couple Heath & Alyssa and they were unsure as am I as to where it originates but it really resonated with me. This has often been my rationale for why I make travel a priority now and hope to continue well into the future so our adventures span a life time.

Without the means at a young age; doing things differently than many of my peers has set me apart and given me opportunities that I otherwise would not have. Everyone has to get creative in their own way to make things happen and I would like to share with you some of the things we have done to secure our many travels.

First, we are frugal and mindful of almost every penny. One of the biggest ways we save money is by taking our time choosing our rental “home.” It takes time to search for the best deals and we are willing to give up some luxuries when choosing where to live but the savings of a couple hundred dollars a month make it worth it. In Chicago, right after college graduation, we rented a small studio apartment for $550; all utilities included and it met our needs of a place to put our things and our heads down at night. When we first moved to Reno our search was daunting but with time and perseverance we found an amazing apartment, almost 1200 sq ft with w/d included, for $615 which was a steal. We have also stayed with family during some of our transition periods that has helped us out a ton! It is not the most glamorous to move back home but it can be one of the smartest decisions you could make for your future.

Picking a place to live can be stressful but I encourage you to take your time and wade through the ads, expensive, and flashy places and I am confident you too will find a diamond in the rough. The key is to start searching early and often.

Another way we have been able to save money is by how we buy our groceries. We get made fun of ALOT by family for our 25lb of rice. It is definitely absurd yet the cost savings keep us laughing too. We buy our chicken exclusively when it is on sale and stock up. When it is half off is our favorite!  We often keep it basic without depriving ourselves too much. Most of our fruits and veggie purchases are done when it is on sale. We have a running tab in our head and sometimes in a shared Keep document on what they cost normally and compare sales each week or two depending on when we go shopping.

Going out to eat is a very rare occasion because we have found out that we can cook a fancy, restaurant-quality meal for a fraction of the cost + its a fun date night! It takes practice to put down that item that sounds good in the moment or not to stop in at the drive-thru on your way home. You can build in rewards along the way as you reach goals or are really price conscious all month. Make it small but worthwhile so you feel accomplished without undoing all of your hard work.

These are just a couple of the biggest ways that we are able to save money regularly. This got me thinking about all the other ways we have been thrifty over the years and while traveling so a follow up blog is to come! What are some things you think you could change to start saving more towards your endeavors? Leave us a comment and let us know of any you plan to start or you do so that we can cheat off you! Til next time Pengminions!